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A message from Barrow Council leader Ann Thomson

“Coronavirus represents one of the most difficult, worrying and challenging periods in our lifetimes.

It’s a pandemic that requires unprecedented levels of cooperation within and between communities like ours and others around the world. There's simply no doubt the Covid-19 virus is directly affecting how we live our day to day lives here in Barrow in ways we haven't encountered in a generation.

Like many of you, I am concerned about the many different types of impact it could have upon our community. These range from the potentially devastating health risks for older people and those with underlying health conditions to the difficulties posed by panic buying in the supermarkets which could leave some of the most vulnerable in our midst short of the food they need. But, along with my colleagues in the council chamber, I have been bowled over by the hard work, commitment and compassion springing up within our teams at the borough council, and further afield, as people move to adapt as quickly as possible to new ways of working. The spread of coronavirus has forced us to make some difficult decisions this week as we do what we can to prioritise the health and safety of council officers, staff, our residents and the business community. Behind the scenes, our teams have been working non-stop to put into action community resilience plans built around the latest expert advice from the government and Public Health England on the importance of social distancing and other protective measures. As a result, all shows and events at The Forum have been suspended until further notice and it is no longer open to visitors. The doors of the Dock Museum are also closed. This will undoubtedly bring disappointment to all those who enjoy and make the most of these fantastic facilities which we know are immensely popular across the area. We have also had to close our frontline counter services at the Town Hall and are urging residents to contact us by phone and email where possible. More changes to services are likely to come in the weeks and months ahead as we react to varying numbers of staff. Our hope and aim is to continue to serve you, our community, in the best way we can throughout this period with as little disruption as possible. The reality is, however, that some of the things we usually do will have to be scaled back temporarily. Where we can, we will do new things to help. From Saturday, March 21, charges in Barrow Borough Council-operated car parks are suspended between 8am - 10am and 3pm - 5pm to help both our town centre businesses and residents who need supplies. If there's one thing I'm certain of, it's that Barrow is a special place. It is a borough like no other and I am proud to represent such an incredible area. In tough times, without fail, we rise up, rally round and look after each other. Our borough has faced many challenges over the years. Things we have proudly overcome as a community. Coronavirus represents a new battle, the like of which we have never seen before. Everyone must take this seriously. Everyone must act responsibly. The best fight we can put up against Covid-19 is to follow the expert advice - practice social distancing, minimise travel, work from home where possible and self isolate if one person in your household develops a high temperature or continuous new cough. Please continue to do all you can to protect yourselves, your loved ones and all those around you. There has never been a greater need to consider others and be kind. And finally, thank you to all those working through this difficult time to help make things as easy as possible for everyone. Keep an eye on our social media channels and website. We will get as much information to you as soon as we have it.”

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